Photo Notes

July 14, 2012

I’m Showing in Indianapolis!


I had an opportunity to show a few images at a local coffer house, Lazy Daze, drop into my lap. If you’re in Indiana I hope you’ll check it out: the address is 10 S. Johnson Ave. Indianapolis, IN 46219.  The images on display are 16X20 inches, so these on line images aren’t really as effective, but at least you can see them. The text is the artist’s statement I included with the show. The images are on sale for $275. If you’d like to buy one I’ll get it to you for that price, plus shipping, after the show. All prints are silver gelatin, and are hand made by me.

Time and Shadow

Photography is an art form that is evolving. William Henry Fox Talbot realized that photography would become a means of communication when he created his first images back in the late 1830s. He used his camera to record household goods as buildings people and plants. When he published Pencil of Nature starting in 1844 he presented many of the ways the world would use photographs up to the present time. In the beginning photography was extraordinarily difficult to do. Exposures were long, so cameras had to be supported by a tripod. The chemical processes were almost as arcane as a witch’s brew, and sometimes more dangerous. It’s very important to remember that the photographs a person takes are always constrained by the limitations of the medium: the photographs a person could take.

The photographs I present here are from a certain time in photography. I used large cameras at this time to increase detail and reduce grain. I made prints by hand in a darkroom. I watched each of these images develop on a white sheet of paper under a safelight. It was a good time.

One of the most significant differences between working in this fashion and working with a digital camera is that each image you captured involved certain costs of time and material, so I would choose an image much more carefully. Now I more often shoot everything and edit, which is a very effective way to work with a digital camera. One more time the change in the technology of making pictures has changed the way we take pictures.

I hope these images will share not just how I see, but also some of the magic of making an image. These images were made with 4X5 film cameras. They were printed by hand with an enlarger in a darkroom. I enjoyed this way of fixing my vision onto paper. I hope you will find some joy in these images as well.

John Siskin

I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio
Getting Started in Commercial Photography
If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

July 9, 2012

About Perspective


I hope you’ll check out my books: Photographing Architecture and Understanding and Controlling Strobe Lighting. I hope you’ll get copies if you haven’t already. Of course you know that one reason for this blog is to sell the book and get you to consider one of my classes at BetterPhoto.com:
An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio
Getting Started in Commercial Photography
If you’re in the Indianapolis area there are other opportunities as well. I’ll be giving a lighting presentation at the Indy MU Photo Club on July 12.  I’ll be teaching a class in commercial photography next spring at Ivy Tech.

A short lens for portraits

A longer lens for portraits

I mentioned in my entry that a photograph is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional reality. Since it is a representation you can change the way people perceive the subject. If you step away from the subject and use a telephoto lens then the subject will appear flatter, and if you get closer and use a wide-angle lens the subject will seem exaggerated. So the photographer’s position is critical to the way the subject looks. I see too many images where the photographer got lazy and just used a zoom lens, rather than considering the way the subject will be seen. Can you see the difference in the two shots of Jennifer? One is taken with a short lens and the other with a telephoto lens. I think the shot with the telephoto lens looks better. I would normally use a long lens for a portrait. These shots are from my book Photographing Architecture.


When I shoot a building my goal is to make the subject look more impressive. I start by using a wide-angle lens. I also look for a position that adds shape to the subject. One way to do this is to get close to the subject, and shoot just part of the subject. Another way to do this is to get above the subject. I did these images for a new client CRG Residential here in Indianapolis. You can see that I climbed the hill behind the building for one shot. I was also on a scissor light for a front shot. Lifts are incredibly helpful when shooting building. In this case I got stuck with one of the people from the company at the top of the lift for about twenty minutes. Photography can be so exciting

From the lift.

A straight look at the building

From behind on the hill

Close shot

Close Shot

Close shot

 

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